Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Panchapadika of Padmapada - Sri S.S.S. Critique


And so what are you reading at the moment?

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, witty spookery and of course the long, very long The Method of Vedanta by Sri SSS. which is what Indians call him. At page 418 I’m not at the half way mark yet. It’s comprehensive and the print is small with three varieties of typeface, bold for his own position, light for scriptural gloss and light cursive for explanatory notes of the latter.

You’d want to be in the whole of your health for that.

The present chapter, only 84 pages long, is enlivened by controversy. It’s on Panchapadika, no diacretics on this computer and if there were I wouldn’t know what to do with them.

That’s by Padmapada the close disciple of Shankaracarya. How could that be controversial, if anyone had the knowledge it was surely someone who 'took the dust’ of Bhagavatpada.

Well no, Swami says that he has given a wrong turn to the interpretation of the Preamble to the B.S.B. with his focus on the technicalities of superimposition (adhyasa) and his assertion that it is the cause of creation. He is quite firm in this and his analysis is convincing. When I initially read the preamble without having read any 'authoritative’ commentaries on it I was amazed that advaitins could have become so fascinated by 'confusion’ which they persisted in calling delusion. Rote learning can be like post hypnotic suggestion in over-riding plain perception and an obvious reading.

These various views (of what confusion is) are mentioned, but none of them is criticised, (by Shankara) because the question of how superimposition arises, and the answers given to it, are of little interest. and not relevant to the topic under discussion. That topic is not an exposition of the causes of superimposition. The topic being expounded is: ‘In worldly experience there is a natural superimposition of Consciousness and the non-conscious’. pg.396

Isn’t adhyasa according to other schools an invention of Shankara himself without a Vedic basis?

Pass. I think that it is a teaching device to illustrate a metaphysical insight into the aporetic nature of perception and go from that to a generalisation about what he calls ‘worldly experience’ namely various forms of self-identity. The fact that he brings it in at the beginning of his major work is an indication that he considers it a central insight that requires exposition. To that end he uses the analogy of common confusion. cf:
consciousness

Is that analogy a fixed element in his metaphysics?

Elsewhere he regards analogies as approximations which are of their nature surpassed when the truth is achieved. Adhyasa may be the last of those fingers pointing at the moon on the bough.


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